Starcraft 2 CPU benchmarks: Intel on top, quads without performance benefit
Starcraft 2 pushes the CPU up to the limit: The huge number of units, AI and animations are very stressful. PC Games Hardware checked the performance in Starcraft 2 with 14 CPUs.
Starcraft 2 has been released last week after after seven years of development. The first part of the trilogy, Wings of Liberty, was officially announced in 2007 and it took over three years until the official launch. PC Games Hardware was able to spend a lot of time in the game, we've played the campaign and the very impressive multiplayer part.
Starcraft 2: Benchmark sequence
PC Games Hardware is utilizing a multiplayer realtime replay of a 2on2 match. We do a fast forward of our replay to 26:00 and let Fraps record the framerate of the following 60 seconds while Zerg, Protoss and Terran fight a huge battle including carriers, a mother-ship and lots of other units. This is not a worst-case scenario but for all that a very stressful scene for the CPU. The following video illustrates our benchmark scene:
Starcraft 2: Testbed
Besides the described scene we use a Geforce GTX 480 and run two settings for our benchmarks. At 1024 x 768 pixels without AA or AF the CPUs are able to reach high framerates without limitations of the graphics card, at 1920 x 1200 pixels with 4x MSAA and 16:1 AF the GTX 480 slows the framerate - but anyway the differences between the CPUs are big as well.
Starcraft 2: Results
First point: Starcraft 2 doesn't take advantage of more than two cores, so the Core 2 Quad Q6600 isn't faster than its dual core equivalent Core 2 Duo E6600. Second point: More cache boosts the framerate. The Phenom II X3 720 BE with 2.80 GHz and 6 MiByte of L3 cache is around 13 percent faster then the Athlon II X4 635 with 2.90 GHz and no L3. Also the Core i3 540 (2.93 GHz) can't outperform the Core i5 750 (2.67 GHz) cause last one can utilize 8 MiByte L3 and the i3 only 4 MiByte. The difference amounts to 39 percent. Overall we recommend Intel's Lynnfield CPUs for Starcraft 2: The Core i5 750 counts 730 MHz less than AMD's Phenom II X4 965 BE but it's 14 percent faster - for the same price. Also the Core i7 860 is able to beat AMDs hexa-core Phenom II X6 1090T by a margon of 24 percent.
Starcraft 2: Overclocking and Turbo
While overclocking the Phenom II X6 1090T and the Core i7 860 up to 4.0 GHz (Northbridge of the X6 counts 2.80 GHz and the i7 uncore 3.60 GHz) the difference between both CPUs when comparing the clock for clock data is around 40 percent! The Phenom II X6 1090T with 4.0 GHz is only as fast as the Core i7 860 with stock frequency. AMD's "Turbocore" and Intel's "Turboboost" aren't useful for Starcraft 2.
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